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Feb 19
Free Muni and Paratransit to COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments

By Phillip Pierce

covid_free_ride.jpg

Free Muni and Paratransit to COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments

Starting Tuesday, Feb. 23, Muni and Paratransit will be free for those traveling to get vaccinated for COVID-19. This includes trips in both directions. The SFMTA is also providing additional access to taxi service for those who use the Essential Trip Card.

These rides are good for trips to the city-sponsored high-volume vaccine sites, hospitals or anywhere else that is offering vaccines. More information on the city-sponsored sites as well as directions on how to get there can be found on the city vaccination website.

We know that getting San Franciscans vaccinated is the city's highest priority. This program is designed to eliminate transportation and cost barriers to receiving this life-changing vaccine.

How to Ride on Muni

Use our trip planner or service map to find the best way to get to your vaccination destination. Simply catch the bus and head to where you need to go. Please have your vaccine appointment confirmation or instructions ready in case SFMTA staff asks to see your proof of payment.

Paratransit

Paratransit rides on SF Access van service to and from vaccination appointments will be free for eligible participants. Paratransit van riders must call to make a trip reservation and indicate that they are going to get their COVID-19 vaccine. Staff will make a note in their records to alert the driver that the rider does not need to pay a fare for their trip.

Paratransit taxi riders will have $60 loaded onto their taxi debit card, which will be valid for up to six months, to get to and from their vaccine appointment. Funds should be available starting next week. If you are a paratransit taxi rider and have a question about the value on your card or want to confirm if the additional value has been added, you may call 415.351.7000 or check your card's transaction history on the SF Paratransit Taxi online portal

More information can be found on the SFMTA Paratransit website.

Essential Trip Card

The Essential Trip Card (ETC) already subsidizes about two to three round trips by taxi per month for older adults (persons 65 and older) and people with disabilities. Eligible participants pay 20% of the taxi fare for essential taxi trips. To pay, each rider is issued an ETC debit card, which they can load with value every month.  If ETC participants think that the cost of their trips to vaccine appointments will require more funds than they can currently load each month, they can add $60 of additional funds, at the cost of $12 to the rider, one time only. Existing ETC customers can add this new value online, by phone or by mail, same as usual. New applicants can sign-up by calling 311.

Dec 23
2021 SFMTA Badge Stickers for Employees who work at 1SVN or work remotely

Your 2020 SFMTA badge stickers will be honored on-board Muni through the end of March 2021. If you are regularly working in person, your division will arrange for 2021 sticker distribution before the end of March, if they have not done so already.

Please, DO NOT come to 1 SVN or the worksite, if you are working remotely with the sole reason of getting a 2021 badge sticker.

We all must actively participate in the fight against COVID-19 and remain vigilant. Together we can help stop the spread and save lives.

Thank you for your continued service and commitment to the work of this agency.

Dec 17
A Picture Says a Thousand Words

By Jeremy Menzies and Katie Guyon

If you've been following along with all the updates found on the Inside SFMTA landing page, you might have already spied the light blue button on the top right to the SFMTA Photo Archives. There you have an instant link to both the internal and external photography department and archives, where you can access over 100 years of historic and contemporary photos.

What is the Photo Archive

The SFMTA's Photography Department and Archive has images that trace back 117 years to the year 1903. In the Archive, you find photo collections are split into Historic Photos taken between 1903 and 2005 and Contemporary Photos taken after 2005.

Currently more than 20,000 historic images from 1903 to 1978 are available online as well as thousands of more recent photos taken in the past three years. Subjects include project documentation, everyday street scenes, transit vehicles and facilities, internal awards and ceremonies, portraits and photos of people at work as well as public events such as press conferences and ribbon cuttings.

Never underestimate the power of a photo for your communications. More photos are being added regularly with the entire collection available for offline research by request. Read more about the department and our photos here.

How can I access photos

Visit SFMTA.com/Photo, where you will find two ways to search for photos, by browsing galleries or searching keywords. To make surfing for just the right photo easier, SFMTA Photo staff have created galleries of images.

For additional tips and help finding photos, check out our Use & Search Tips Document, watch this short Staff “How To” video, or contact SFMTAPhoto@SFMTA.com.

For general purpose photos, try browsing the Stock Photo galleries. These galleries are organized by subjects such as Walking, Biking, Transit, Neighborhoods and the like.

If you'd like to see the most recent photos regardless of subject matter, look under Contemporary Photos by Year. This area lists photos taken in the past three years, organized in chronological order.

If you need to find something more specific, SFMTA Photo staff have tagged photos with descriptive keywords. Try using keywords such as project names, street names, modes or vehicle types to find images of what you need.

For additional tips, check out the comprehensive guide or contact SFMTAPhoto@SFMTA.com.

Downloading copies for work

The best way to access downloads on the site is to create an account using your SFMTA.com email address and login. Be sure to notify SFMTA Photo staff when you create an account by emailing sfmtaphoto@sfmta.com so they can grant you proper access. Note that you will not be able to download files without first notifying us that you created an account that first time.

Can't Find What You Need

Feel free to contact the Photo Archive staff if you have trouble finding something or problems accessing downloads. They can help troubleshoot your search, or in some cases find photos you are looking for in the offline files. If it's something that we don't already have on file, the agency's staff photographer may be able to take new photos specifically for your project.

Drop us a comment, we'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. You can also send story ideas to InsideSFMTA@SFMTA.com.

Dec 16
RECAP: Dec. 15 SFMTA Board Meeting, Director’s Report

If you were unable to attend the Dec. 15 SFMTA Board meeting, here is a replay of the director's report presented by Director Jeff Tumlin during which he gave updates on agency news and initiatives. A very brief synopsis follows.

 


Vision Zero

There were four Vision Zero fatalities in the last month. A driver suffering life-threatening injuries in a Nov. 21 collision at 16th Street and Potrero has succumbed to his injuries. Due to the nature of the crash, there are no rapid response engineering recommendations.

Then Dec.1 there were two fatalities:

  • Geary Boulevard at 38th Avenue – westbound motorist struck and killed pedestrian in the crosswalk. Rapid Response determined that daylighting be added to the NW and NE corners with daylighting refreshed at the SE corner.
  • Powered scooter rider and motorist collided at the intersection of 16th and Bryant streets resulting in the death of the scooter rider. Rapid Response determination to add a Leading Pedestrian Interval and retime the signal for 3.0 Walk Speed.

And a Dec. 3 fatality when a powered scooter rider died in a solo vehicle crash on the Embarcadero. Rapid Response resulted in no recommendations.

Autonomous vehicles

You have likely seen news reports about a few recent advances in AV testing in San Francisco. In October, Cruise received a permit from the DMV to test up to five vehicles without a driver behind the wheel on specified streets in San Francisco, during both the day and night. The five vehicles are not authorized to test during heavy or rain or on streets with posted speed limits that exceed 30 mph. While four companies have permits to test driverless outside the City, this is the first driverless permit to be issued for testing in San Francisco.

Last week, Cruise announced that it began its driverless testing operations in limited areas of the Sunset District of San Francisco. SFMTA staff will continue to work closely with the Mayor's Office and City departments to ensure first responders are prepared to address any emergencies involving these vehicles.

Zoox, an AV company testing in San Francisco, unveiled their new vehicle prototype this week with no human controls that they aspire to roll out in San Francisco sometime in the future. And Waymo has also expanded their testing in San Francisco in vehicles that include safety drivers

While excited by the possibility that driving automation may help us solve real transportation problems in San Francisco. Chief among these possibilities is a real contribution to Vision Zero. If autonomous vehicles (AV) are programmed to follow the speed limit, yield to pedestrians, and stop at every stop sign and red light, AVs could reduce traffic violence and bring us closer to zero road fatalities and serious injuries.

But we must learn from recent history with TNCs and be clear eyed about the potential negative unintended consequences:   

  • Explosion of vehicle miles traveled and corresponding greenhouse gases.
  • Increase in congestion  
  • Reduction in mobility options for people who use wheelchairs   

We hope to see AV passenger services create a real expansion of mobility options for those who need it the most while preventing these unintended consequences, not just maximize convenience for those who already have abundant travel options. But we can't demand this: state law gives authority over AVs to the CA Department of Motor Vehicles and the California Public Utilities Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has primary authority over safety regulations. Guided by our Transit First, Vision Zero and Climate Action policies, SFMTA staff have been actively trying to influence state and federal agencies to adopt regulations that maximize the potential upside of driving automation while preventing the unintended negative consequences.

Shared Spaces

Most recent Stay at Home Order creates temporary changes for Shared Spaces that involve outdoor dining - including in the curbside lane, sidewalk and full roadway closures - must temporarily suspend operations while this order is in effect. Some Shared Spaces like farmers markets, winter markets or certain retail outlets may continue outside, but we defer to the public health department for guidance on specific cases

In some good news the Shared Spaces Equity Grants Program offers financial support to reimburse business owners for costs associated with building and operating a Shared Spaces location up to $5,000. Support will also help business owners in the process of opening a Shared Spaces location in anticipation of future re-openings. Priority for the Shared Spaces Equity Grants is given to locally and minority-owned businesses that advance the City's equity goals. Applications are open and there is no deadline to apply. Grants will be issued on a rolling basis with applicants notified every two weeks about the status of their applications. Interested businesses can apply at sf.gov/get-help-paying-your-shared-space-improvements.

Muni transit

Muni will continue with current service plan during Regional Stay Home Order – transit still needed for essential trips. Mask compliance rates are 95%. Please avoid gathering with those you don't live with, wear a mask and travel for essential trips only.

Vaccine distribution

Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for vaccine distribution, states are not required to follow recommendations. Final decision rests with governors who are consulting with health officials. Bay Area's transit general managers are echoing the call from Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) requesting States ensure that transit, paratransit and school transportation workers are prioritized along with other essential workers following healthcare workers. Prioritizing transit workers ensures a healthy workforce ready to carry a growing number of workers as communities reopen. This includes taxi drivers who are a valuable part of the city's transportation network.

Even with reduced ridership, an average of 8 million monthly riders continue to depend on Bay Area transit services. These riders are the healthcare workers, grocery clerks, caregivers, emergency services personnel and others doing the critical work that has kept California functioning during the pandemic. They cannot continue to do so without access to reliable public transportation and are therefore dependent on the health of the transit workers that serve them every day.

Safe Drivers Awards

The Safe Drivers Awards are the annual recognition for transit operators who have demonstrated excellence in driving and safety for at least 15 years; having driven a minimum number of hours during the past fiscal year without a preventable incident. This year 299 operators have earned that distinction; three with more than 35 years. Each will receive a newly designed Safe Drivers token commemorating 2020. The highest number of years of safe driving is 46 years (Oliverio Valle from Cable Car Division). 28 transit operators are newly eligible this year and will receive special patches and belt buckle.

Muni Art

The SFMTA is supporting local artists through the Muni Art program for sixth consecutive year in conjunction with San Francisco Beautiful and the Poetry Society of America. Images from local artists who participated in a Muni Art contest earlier in the fall will be displayed in 100 buses around the city beginning in mid-January through June. Five winners were selected through online voting in September of a field of 53 entries. Artwork will be unveiled online due out of public health and safety concerns.

SFMTA Board of Directors

Twice monthly the agency's board of directors meet at City Hall to discuss and provide policy oversight for safe and efficient transportation in San Francisco in accordance with the city charter and the Transit First Policy.

This seven-member board, appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, typically meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 1 p.m., unless otherwise noted. Meetings are open to everyone and are streamed live through SFGovTV. Additional information such as agendas, resolutions and legislation passed by the Board can be accessed through our public-facing website, SFMTA.com.

Have an idea or question you would like to see addressed here? Drop a comment below or contact InsideSFMTA@SFMTA.com. Your thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated.

Dec 16
VIDEO: HR COVID-19 Update

The Human Resources Division and the Department Operations Command team (DOC) recently hosted a conference call for staff to talk about COVID-19. Guest panelists included Dr. Fiona Wilson from the Department of Public Health (DPH), Peggy Sugarman, director of Workers' Compensation for the city, Tony Henderson, operations section chief for the DOC and Romika Williams, the agency's Workforce Development and Leaves Administration manager.

Among the many topics presented and discussed included:

  • San Francisco and SFMTA Covid cases
  • Importance of safety protocols (daily health screening, face covering and social distancing)
  • Upcoming holidays and travel recommendations
  • Fighting pandemic fatigue
  • Testing information
  • How to report concerns

 

If you were unable to attend the meeting, below is the video replay of the event and the PowerPoint presentation. A full list of staff comments and questions/answers will be forthcoming. Please note any guidance suggested here is subject to change based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/DPH updates.

 


If you have any HR related questions regarded COVID-19, please email COVID.HR.Questions@SFMTA.com. If you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or if you have any other questions about COVID-19 health and safety protocols, please call the SFMTA COVID hotline 415.646.2000 

 

Have an idea or question you would like to see addressed here? Drop a comment below or contact InsideSFMTA@SFMTA.com. Your thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated.

Dec 08
Praise: Muni's Rays of Sunshine

By Lori Phelan

2020 may not have been a year to remember, not all the news is dire. In fact, there are a few stellar rays of sunshine emanating from Muni this past year. A whole array of 123 beams of warmth – all in the form of Operators of the Month and Systemwide Operators of the Month.

For the full listing for 2020 Operators of the Month, Systemwide and Runner Ups, click here.

While we haven't been able to celebrate them individually as in year's past, we do honor them none-the-less now. These are the transit operators who go above and beyond, day after day showing dedication to their work, through the good times and bad, helping essential workers get to where they need to go safely.

 

Muni's most senior operator, Oliver Valle #0382, says it most eloquently in one of the videos currently running on the digital screen and on the Operator Portal.

This year's group of exceptional employees have demonstrated their dedication to doing not just a good job, but a great job, especially during this past year. Although we are highlighting this group here, we do in fact honor all 2,500 operators driving and serving in DSW positions as ambassadors and other positions this past year.

Thank you for making us Muni proud!

Have an idea or question you would like to see addressed here? Drop a comment below or contact InsideSFMTA@SFMTA.com. Your thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated.

Dec 08
Jeff Tumlin: All-staff Budget Call Follow Up

Colleagues,

Last week's all-staff call was an honest look at our budget status. I know it caused anxiety for many of you. My priority is to set the agency on a path to on-going financial stability. As we do this, the goal is to preserve as many jobs and as much service as possible.

I shared a lot of information on the call and appreciate all the comments, questions and suggestions that you shared. Although we didn't have enough time to address all of your questions, answers to all of the questions that were submitted during the call are here. Additionally, I want to highlight answers to a number of issues that were raised that deserve special attention:

  • What's our plan over the next few months?
    • First and foremost, I want to be honest and transparent about our situation with you and with the public. We will spend the remainder of the year generating ideas to close our deficit. Ideas like the ones suggested in our all staff call such as early retirement, pay cuts, and others are on the table. If you have additional specific suggestions of ways we can close our deficit, please email these ideas to budget@sfmta.com
    • We are looking at strategies that our peer transportation agencies are using as they face similar challenges as well as approaches that might be unique to us.
    • We will be holding a two-day workshop with our Board in February. At the workshop, we will evaluate updated budget information and consider the strategies to close our deficit. Unless we find ways to bring in significant new revenues or cut costs to address our $236 million deficit , layoffs will be necessary. Nonetheless, layoffs should be our last resort, and we will be spending the next eight weeks working through potential solutions. By February we need to have a plan of action that we can put into effect immediately.
  • If layoffs happen, what would the timeline be? 
    • We will be looking at all options short of layoffs -- I do not want to have to lay off anyone; however, if layoffs become imminent, the soonest that this decision would be made would be in the spring, with notification that follows MOUs' advance notification periods and formal separation in the summer. 
  • How are decisions being made and how can staff provide input?
    • I have established a Cost Control Committee (CCC), which includes myself, Julie Kirschbaum, Tom Maguire, and a few key senior managers, with support from the budget group and HR. This group evaluates the agency's hiring plans and mission critical spending. It is implementing the budget plan laid out by our Board in April 2020.
    • If you have ideas for cost savings for the agency, please send them to: budget@sfmta.com
    • We will set up a series of office hours to gather ideas and respond to questions. We are actively exploring additional formal structures for staff to contribute to our budget planning.
  • How is equity being considered in SFMTA's response to the budget crisis?
    • We are making budget decisions with service equity for the public in mind first. Our core responsibility as an agency is to meet San Francisco's transportation needs, particularly for our community members with the fewest choices.
    • We are vetting options to make sure we understand all the implications and consequences for our workforce and can address them to the maximum extent possible.
  • What is the state of SFMTA's reserves?
    • There is a difference between the agency's "fund balance" and rainy day reserve. The fund balance is what is left when we subtract our costs from our funding and revenue sources each year and can accumulate over time. The rainy day reserve is a special part of our fund balance that acts like a protected savings account to help us get through fiscal emergencies and recessions.
    • The SFMTA board adopted SFMTA budget lays out how our fund balance was used for our two-year budget and can be found here. (See pg. 25)
    • The SFMTA has already used a significant amount ($69.5 million) of fund balance as one-time funding to balance the final adopted FY 2021 and FY 2022 budget.
    • The "rainy-day" reserve is set at 10 percent of the operating budget and we reserve it in case of unforeseen deficits. Our rainy day reserve is $129 million over two years. While we have this available, it is not enough to cover our total projected deficits of $236 million over two years. We also recognize the possibility that our revenues may recover more slowly than what we are anticipating, which could bring the total deficit to $370 million over the coming two years. SFMTA's rainy day reserves can provide only a third to half of what we need.
  • What's the city's rainy day fund, how much is it, and can the SFMTA get funding from it?
    • SFMTA is not a General Fund department, like many other departments like Public Health or Recreation & Parks. We are an enterprise department and do not receive the city's Budget Stabilization or Rainy Day reserves.
    • Our situation is worse than the rest of the city; however, other departments and the city as a whole also face severe budget problems.
    • Recently, the Controller's Office released the 3-month report showing a General Fund shortfall of $115.9 million in the current fiscal year.
    • The Controller's Office projects the use of city reserves to help close the deficit in FY 2020-21 and FY 2021-22 resulting in an ending balance of $197.7 million.
  • What do you mean when you say we have a structural deficit?
    • Even before the COVID emergency, we recognized that the SFMTA's ongoing revenues were not sufficient to cover the agency's ongoing expenditures. Moreover, the SFMTA's expenditures are growing faster than our revenues every year, which widens the agency's "structural deficit."
    • In addition, the SFMTA used nearly $300 million in one-time revenue sources, including our fund balance, CARES Act Funding, and development impact fees to reduce shortfalls in the FY 2020-21 and FY 2021-22 budgets. These one-time revenues have now been used up.
    • Our current projections show SFMTA facing a deficit of $168 million in FY 2021-22 and $119 million in FY 2022-23.
  • What about those new funding sources? What are they and when would the agency get them?
    • We are working to prepare funding measures for the San Francisco 2022 ballot.  If the voters pass any measures, funds would likely not be available until sometime in 2023.
    • $350 million General Obligation Bond (anticipated for ballot in June 2022). If adopted, these funds will go to long-overdue facility renewals, transit improvement projects, and safer streets projects. This source of funding cannot be used for operations.
    • Proposition K Sales Tax Reauthorization (proposed for the ballot in June 2022). This would extend the expenditure plan of the existing ½ cent sales tax that raises between $90 million-$100 million for San Francisco annually; SFMTA is one of numerous recipients of these funds. This is a recurring source of funding and is already assumed in SFMTA budgets.
    • $70 million/year Community Facilities District (anticipated on ballot in mid- to late- 2022). If adopted, this would provide funding for transit service, core maintenance, system vulnerabilities and state of good repair needs. We would also be able to bond against these funds in support of major capital efforts.

In closing, I want to recommit to sharing updates with you as there is information to share and to be a tireless advocate for this agency and our team members.

 

Yours in service,

Jeff


Dec 03
Dec. 1 SFMTA Board Meeting, Director’s Report

If you were unable to attend the Dec. 1 SFMTA Board meeting, here is a replay of the director's report presented by Director Jeff Tumlin during which he gave updates on agency news and initiatives. A very brief synopsis follows.

 


Covid 19

It is with great sadness that I inform you about the passing of one of our staff who died recently (Nov. 21) of complications from Covid-19. Our sympathies are with the family. To date we've had 102 of our family tests positive. In this case, the employee had been on leave for most of the past year. As is our protocol, we continue to be diligent and monitor staff regularly, employing all safety guidelines as outlined by our department of public health:

  • Sanitizing buses and high-touch surfaces daily with strong disinfectants
  • Adjusting Muni route schedules so that each operator starts with a fresh vehicle instead of switching off in the field
  • Requiring all passengers and staff to wear a face mask always; having ambassadors at stops handing out masks to anyone boarding without one
  • Limiting the numbers of riders per vehicle to allow for social distancing; skipping stops if vehicles are at capacity
  • Mandatory use of the polycarbonate driver enclosure
  • Limited exposure for anyone entering any of our agency facilities; having hand sanitizer readily available at all agency entrances
  • Providing frontline staff access to masks, hand sanitizer and latex gloves
  • Requiring all staff do daily self-health and temperature screenings before entering a facility or work in the field

Vision Zero

Safe Streets/Quick-Builds work continues. Friday, our signal and paint shops coordinated to substantially complete the Folsom-Mission bikeway on the Embarcadero, which is now open for two-way riding. The signal shop installed signals for the bikeway at Howard, while the paint shop completed all remaining striping to allow for two-way travel. The final piece of the project will take place in the new year with Public Works installing railings on the concrete islands.

Finishing touches are also being made on Beale Street between Market and Folsom – this project features a two-way bikeway design. Howard Street Quick Build is now in construction mode as well, which will last through the winter. This project extends protected bikeways on Howard Street from Third Street to The Embarcadero, providing a more continuously protected space for people to ride.

Quick Build projects such as along Golden Gate, Leavenworth and Williams avenues are in the planning phase, preparing street designs that target traffic safety issues with ongoing outreach.

In addition to quick builds, systemwide work is also advancing – San Francisco County Transportation Authority approved a Prop K funding allocation of $500,000 to advance citywide daylighting on the High Injury Network. This work will begin in the new year.

Fare enforcement

Fare enforcement resumes Dec. 1. Goal is not to raise revenue through citation fines but to encourage everyone to pay their fair share. Fare revenue down 94% compared pre-Covid. Necessary to stabilize budget. Too much of a crisis to rely on honor system to balance books.

Witnessing rise in anti-social behavior and assaults on operators. Inspectors have been given de-escalation training to address issues so everyone can feel safe on the bus. Inspectors promoting compliance with health and safety regulations, such as wearing a mask to ride.

Returning to fare collection policies does not mean balancing books on the backs of those who are unable to pay. SFMTA has some of the most supportive and inclusive discount fare programs of any American transit agency:

  • Inspectors educated in options and have handouts to give out.
  • Enrollment fees may be reduced or waived depending on income. Timelines for fulfilling these plans have been extended.
  • Unemployment added as an option to certify eligibility; and we offer a free pass for homelessness.
  • Those who may not qualify, but have a hardship, have the right to perform community service or contest the citation online or by mail.
  • Customers who receive a transit citation, and who successfully enroll in a low-income fare program within 30 days, can have citation waived.

For Muni to survive, we need to collect fares. Fare data from the past several months has demonstrated that we can't rely on the honor system.

Parking enforcement

Actively issuing citations for street cleaning since June, meters since July and Residential Parking Permits since September.

Policy decision to temporarily suspend parking enforcement:

  • 72-hour overtime parking limit and towing, except for towing in Temporary Emergency Transit Lanes
  • Commuter shuttle parking
  • Peak-hour commuter tow away zones

Great Highway

Traffic Mitigation Plan: As a result of the Nov. 10 correspondence from Supervisor Mar, staff developed a response letter and is committed to increasing the use of traffic management tools to minimize traffic impacts, collecting and evaluating traffic, collision and survey data to better understand and manage traffic conditions and also to increasing our outreach and engagement efforts.

Nov. 21 Town Hall: San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) in partnership with Supervisor Mar and the SFMTA and Recreation and Parks Department (RPD) hosted a town hall to discuss the future of the Great Highway. The virtual event was attended by over 400 participants and was a forum for providing an overview of the study and reviewing the initial concepts for the future of the Great Highway between Lincoln Way and Sloat Boulevard. The next community meeting is scheduled for mid-December.

Speed Tables Installed: Public Works have begun to install speed tables along the Lower Great Highway which ideally can help to reduce the speed and volume of vehicles. These improvements are associated with the Lower Great Highway Pedestrian Improvement Project.

District 4 Great Highway Study: Led by the SFCTA, in partnership with the SFMTA and RPD has started to develop future conceptual configurations of the Great Highway and will be releasing a survey in the days ahead to capture feedback from the public. The study will be found on the sfcta.org website (sfcta.org/projects/district-4-mobility-study)

S&P Revenue Bond Rating

Standard and Poor's (S&P) global credit ratings has just downgraded its 'AA' long-term rating on the agency's revenue bonds to AA-. While a credit downgrade is never desired, SFMTA's rating of 'AA-' signals that the agency's bonds are still high-quality investment grade – a solid, low-risk investment. Downgrade reflects COVID-19 impacts to SFMTA's passenger fares and parking revenue that are expected to continue through the current fiscal year.

SFMTA remains in a strong financial position compared to peers, having one of the highest ratings of any U.S. transit agency in our class, partly due to significant reserves of $125 million, and reflective of prudent financial management and strong governance. S&P's report was positive in that it highlighted agency strengths including very strong market position, along with strong public support, local economic fundamentals, management and governance, and financial performance with a low debt burden.

SFMTA Board of Directors

Twice monthly the agency's board of directors meet at City Hall to discuss and provide policy oversight for safe and efficient transportation in San Francisco in accordance with the city charter and the Transit First Policy.

This seven-member board, appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, typically meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 1 p.m., unless otherwise noted. Meetings are open to everyone and are streamed live through SFGovTV. Additional information such as agendas, resolutions and legislation passed by the Board can be accessed through our public-facing website, SFMTA.com.

Have an idea or question you would like to see addressed here? Drop a comment below or contact InsideSFMTA@SFMTA.com. Your thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated.

Nov 24
VIDEO: Director Jeff Tumlin and TWU Local 250 A President Roger Marenco

 

Director Jeff Tumlin and TWU Local 250 A President Roger Marenco speak jointly about the passing of one of our Muni operators who died recently of complications from COVID-19. Our sympathies are with the family who are dealing with this tragedy created by the pandemic.

Counseling and wellness services are available to you as a SFMTA and city worker through:

  • SFMTA CARE Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provided through Claremont 24/7 at 800-834-3773
  • Peer Assistance Program also 24/7 at 415-923-6346 or by email at PAP@sfmta.com
  • Heal San Francisco – a citywide resource

 

Have an idea or question you would like to see addressed here? Drop a comment below or contact InsideSFMTA@SFMTA.com. Your thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated.

Nov 19
VIDEO: Nov. 17 SFMTA Board Meeting, Director’s Report

If you were unable to attend the Nov. 17 SFMTA Board meeting, here is a replay of the director's report presented by Director Jeff Tumlin during which he gave updates on the budget, impacts from the election, fare enforcement, the Central Subway and other key agency initiatives. A very brief synopsis follows.

 


Budget update

The Office of the Controller's three-month budget status report projected a $37 million reduction in baseline, parking tax in-lieu and Mission Bay Transportation Improvement Fund transfers to the SFMTA compared to budget due to major shortfalls in business, hotel, sales and parking taxes from the pandemic and associated economic downturn. We are factoring the $34 million reduction into SFMTA's own budget projections and will make a full presentation on our strategies for managing our own reduced revenues at the Dec. 1 Board Workshop.

Overall, the City expects a net $116 million general fund shortfall in FY 20-21 and has already anticipated drawing down 30% of their existing economic stabilization reserves, or about $156 million. They are now evaluating how to rebalance their budget.

Election impacts

Passage of the RR Caltrain 1/8% sales tax in three counties, with more than two-thirds of the vote, should generate $100 million per year for 30 years to keep Caltrain operating, with revenues to Caltrain starting in the fall of 2021. This will help to offset annual contributions from San Francisco, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. San Francisco currently provides operating support of $8 million from the SFMTA and capital support of $7.5 million paid by the SF County Transportation Authority.

Passage of the City's Proposition F business tax overhaul was already assumed in the City's budget. Future year revenues will not benefit SFMTA since the measure was written to devote all new revenues resulting from it to the General Fund.

Passage of the City's Proposition I increase in real estate transfer tax for large transactions is anticipated to increase general fund revenues by about $11 million in FY 20-21.

Passage of the City's Proposition L, the new executive pay-related business tax is estimated to bring between $60 to $140 million annually to the City, but not until FY 22-23, beginning July 2022. The SFMTA share of whatever revenues materialize would be about 9%, or $5 to $13 million based on the Controller's estimate.

Failure of the State's Proposition 15 property tax reform means that the City and SFMTA will not see the revenues that might have flowed from the measure. If passed it would have impacted 2022-23 revenue so it wasn't incorporated in the short-term projections for the next two fiscal years, and we did not anticipate those revenues in our financial planning for now.

Fare enforcement

While mentioned in the last report, good to reiterate that citations will be issued again beginning Dec. 1. Also, to support collection of cash fares, piloting all-door boarding on certain vehicles starting Monday (Nov. 23). Based on outcome, all-door boarding systemwide two weeks later. Return to service phased-in with transit support and refocus on Proof of Payment program beginning late August; no citations issued.

Fare inspectors deployed as Disaster Service Workers earlier this year. Received training in emotional intelligence, suicide prevention, mobile crisis response, human trafficking, and customer service and de-escalation.

Central Subway

Current projections put the completion of construction this spring and the start of service in the following spring of 2022. Delays will likely have impacts on the overall project budget.

Delayed a few months due to COVID-19 and other complexities:

  • Moving to remote work and instituting necessary safety measures and procedures
  • Quarantining multiple contractor crews when, despite safety measures, some of the team tested positive for COVID-19
  • Difficulties and delays in getting materials from suppliers
  • Ongoing design changes throughout the project due to the differing site conditions discovered deep underground


Twin Peak Boulevard survey

Twin Peaks Boulevard gates were closed early in the pandemic to reduce crowding at the lookout point parking lot. Without vehicle traffic Twin Peaks experiences over 800 visitors each weekday and more than 1,100 on weekend days on the Portola side. Closed configuration has significant support, but there are issues we hope to address.

South end gate at Portola Drive was opened in September between 6 p.m. and midnight every day to provide local access for drivers. However, some unresolved issues remain so the SFMTA is working with the community and other city departments including Rec and Park, San Francisco Police Department and Public Works to ensure access and balancing needs at Twin Peaks. 

SFMTA released a public survey Oct. 20. It was open for three weeks, closing Nov. 9. Received over 1,750 responses. Survey report will be available on the website later this week. Asked the public preferences to five different alternatives. Planning to bring legislation to Board early next year after sharing the preferred alternative with public at a Public Hearing in December or January.

Keeping only the north side gate open was the preferred option in the survey. More than half of respondents supported this choice. In comparison, the next most preferred option was the Pre-COVID condition that 33% of respondents supported.

Great Highway

The street closure has more people than ever using the space causing much concern for motorists. This is something we are looking into and will return to the board with more detail.

SFMTA Board of Directors

Twice monthly the agency's board of directors meet at City Hall to discuss and provide policy oversight for safe and efficient transportation in San Francisco in accordance with the city charter and the Transit First Policy.

This seven-member board, appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, typically meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 1 p.m., unless otherwise noted. Meetings are open to everyone and are streamed live through SFGovTV. Additional information such as agendas, resolutions and legislation passed by the Board can be accessed through our public-facing website, SFMTA.com.

Have an idea or question you would like to see addressed here? Drop a comment below or contact InsideSFMTA@SFMTA.com. Your thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated.

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No, this isn't actually my picture. I just haven't gotten around to updating this section. It's good to know that someone is reading every last word though. Thanks!